The owner of a gun parts store in California is defying federal agents by refusing to turn over the names of more than 5,000 of his customers.
Dimitrios Karras, a former United States Marine and the CEO of Ares Armor in National City, Calif., said agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are not investigating his business, KSWB-TV reported.
Rather, he explained, they are investigating his customers.
Karras said ATF agents threatened to close him down if he didn’t comply with their demands to turn over the names of roughly 5,000 customers who purchased a specific 80 percent lower receiver used for building an AR-15 rifle.
The part is used as the base of the rifle.
It is legal in the state of California to build an AR-15 that has no serial number, but only if the base meets the ATF’s exact specifications, KSWB-TV notes.
And here’s Karras’ problem: His store was selling a receiver the ATF claims is illegal.
Instead of metal, Ares Armor carried a certain brand of receiver that is made from plastic. It also has markings on it to show gun owners exactly where to drill.
The ATF is not happy.
Ares Armor was one of several stores to receive a letter from federal agents demanding they turn over the non-compliant product and the names of the customers who bought them.
“They said either give us these 5,000 names or we are coming in and taking pretty much anything – which is a huge privacy concern and something we are not willing to do,” Karras told KSWB-TV.
Karras explained he has no problem turning over his inventory to the ATF. In fact, his lawyer has already told ATF agents they can come by any time to pick up the receivers.
Karras’ issue is the demand to turn over the names of his customers.
“They were going to search all of our facilities and confiscate our computer and pretty much shut our business down,” he said. “The government invades our privacy on a daily basis and everyone thinks it's okay. This is one of those situations where hopefully the governmental institutions will come in say, 'This is protected and no you’re not taking it from them.'”
Knowing what was coming, Karras got ahead of the ATF and filed a temporary restraining order against them. This means that the ATF can’t confiscate any of the Karras’ property.
The ATF has a window of opportunity to respond to Karras. If the two don’t reach an agreement soon, they will both meet in court for a preliminary hearing on March 20.
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